Microsoft signs its fourth 10-year deal in four weeks in latest attempt to push the Activision acquisition through
It must be a day that ends in 'y', because Microsoft's signed another 10-year deal, now with Ubitus, the cloud gaming "enabler" behind several Nintendo Switch ports.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer announced the deal rather casually in a tweet. The 10-year partnership will enable Ubitus to "stream Xbox PC Games as well as Activision Blizzard titles after the acquisition closes," Spencer says.
It's currently unclear whether this list of games includes Call of Duty, as the series isn't mentioned by name, but it's a reasonable assumption. Microsoft president Brad Smith recently said more non-exclusivity Call of Duty deals will be announced in the next few weeks, and here we are again.
"Our commitment is to give more players more choice," Spencer added, mimicking verbiage from a recent Microsoft press conference which saw the reveal of a 10-year Call of Duty deal with Nintendo and a 10-year streaming deal with Nvidia GeForce Now. Business development lead Sarah Bond echoed Spencer's tweet, maintaining that "giving customers more choice is core to what we do."
Of course, the underlying reason the company has become so 10-year-deal-happy is that it's looking to appease competition regulators who have opposed the Xbox Activision deal on the grounds that, on top of giving one publisher control of the industry megalith that is Call of Duty, it would give Xbox an unfair advantage in cloud gaming, a space it already dominates. Just yesterday, March 14, the company announced a 10-year deal with Ukrainian cloud service Boosteroid, hailed as "the largest independent cloud gaming provider in the world."
Deals like these let Microsoft demonstrate its much-vaunted "pro-competitive" stance even as it seeks to drop $69 billion on one of the biggest publishers in the industry, all while getting more eyes on games it owns (and wants to own) via competing platforms which aren't really a threat to the cloud gaming presence of Xbox Game Pass. A new report indicates the strategy may be working, with the European Union apparently expected to approve the deal, though notable regulatory opponents still remain.
In its own tweet, Ubitus said: "This collaboration enhances our library with high profile game IPs, it also expands our library size to over 1,000 titles, a significant milestone for Ubitus – keeping up our mission of bringing quality games to more platforms and players in more countries with our accessible game streaming solution."
Ubitus is probably best known for backing Switch ports for games like A Plague Tale: Innocence, Control, Hitman 3, and The Forgotten City, which would all probably run like a bag of hammers on the actual native Switch hardware.
PlayStation boss Jim Ryan reportedly declined a new Call of Duty deal, saying "I just want to block your merger."